What is 3 years for nature? Close to nothing.
And for a farmer? Three springs of hard work. Three summers of hoping for rain to come or go away. Three harvests. Three winters of thinking about the next season. How to grow more and better. How to lower expenses and prevent crop loss. How to sleep lighter.
For us at Pessl Instruments the last 3 years have been about making a change for Moldovan farmers, through the project “Improved risk management for farmers in Moldova” and helping them step closer to sustainability in agriculture. With support from Austrian Development Agency and through cooperation with local partners we have managed to establish a national network of iMETOS weather stations and insect traps, to offer Moldovan farmers an exclusive opportunity to learn and apply new technologies to their work. Along with helping them determine critical weather conditions, the equipment also reduces risks and enables them to grow crops more efficiently by optimizing irrigation practices and reducing the expensive use of pesticides and fertilizers.
In the span of 3 years, 105 iMETOS weather stations and 46 insect traps have been installed in Northern and Central regions of the country to provide farmers with decision support system. To lower crop, fruit and vegetable loss the SMS Warning system has been set up to send automatic warnings to apple, grape, sugar beet, cereal, potato and nut growers.
The project has shown great results along the way, making a big difference for small and medium sized farms in securing their expected revenue.
We are happy to say that more than 250.000 farmers have benefited from the project, directly from the use of the measured data and we have seen a great change in the mind-set of the people through trainings and workshops on irrigation, integrated pest management and plant protection issues that were carried out for them. A train the trainer program for 15 regional public representatives was also organized to ensure continuous individual consulting and training of farmers from different regions of Moldova.
We have collected some stories to give a better insight into the project.
Mr. Anton Dumbrava from Cojusna village (Straseni District, Central Moldova) cultivates a 50-hectare apple orchard and 5-hectare vegetable field. Timely warning, weather forecast and information about possible insect invasions significantly helped minimize the negative impact of extreme temperatures and reduce irrigation costs and use of pesticides and fertilizers.
“With the iMETOS weather stations and insect traps we can prevent factors affecting the crop quality. We can reduce the amount of work and also decrease costs for chemical treatment and irrigation. The cost of the iMETOS weather station including software and forecasting services is around 2,000 €. Considering the fact that the pesticides and chemicals are quite expensive, I believe I will soon cover the investment made”, – said Mr. Dumbrava.
Mr Igor Ivanov from (“Vindex Agro” Farm Malaiesti village, Orhei District) owns 70 hectares of crops, including about 40 ha of irrigated cherry and apple orchards. With the support from Agrostoc specialists, he shares the weather and pest management information with many other farmers from his region.
“I am quite satisfied with the results I was able to achieve with the use of iMETOS weather stations and insect traps in the last 2 years. They keep me informed about the state of my crops and help me control the real situation in the field more efficiently; especially because by acting on time, I can prevent or mitigate negative impact. In spite of challenging weather conditions this year, I produced 35 to 40 tons of apples (dependent on the variety) per hectare, and 5 to 7 tons of cherries per hectare (the first harvest). This is why I consider the cost of an iMETOS weather station bought two years ago already covered”, – said Mr. Ivanov.
We are happy to say that the project was a great success and that it has made a long-term impact on Moldovan agriculture. It has not finished with the official closing date, but has been continuing on the initiative of our local project partner Agrostoc to ensure continuous striving for sustainability in agriculture.